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Ralph Gomory graduated from Williams College in 1950, studied at Cambridge University and received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton University in 1954. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1954 to 1957.
In 1957 he returned to Princeton as Higgins Lecturer. During his two years at Princeton he invented the first integer programming algorithm and was promoted to Assistant Professor.
In 1959 Gomory joined the newly formed Research Division of IBM, and in 1970 he became IBM Director of Research with line responsibility for the IBM Research Division. Under his leadership the Research Division made major contributions to the computer industry, such as the invention of the Relational data base, made many contributions to IBM’s ongoing business through its contributions to advancing semiconductors and disc drives, and in addition won two Nobel Prizes in Physics. In 1986 he became IBM Senior Vice President for Science and Technology.
In 1989 he retired from IBM and became President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. During his eighteen years as President the foundation pioneered on-line education, before there was even a commercial internet, and supported major scientific efforts such as the Sloan Sky Survey and the Sloan initiated Census of Marine life.
During this period Gomory published extensively on industrial competitiveness, technological change, and on economic models of international trade. With the well-known economist William J. Baumol he wrote the 2001 MIT Press book ”Global Trade and Conflicting National Interests”.
After 18 years as Sloan President, Gomory retired with the newly created title of President Emeritus and then spent a number of years as a Visiting Professor at the Stern School of Business of New York University.
Gomory has been given seven honorary degrees from universities here and abroad and many prizes. In 1988 he was awarded the National Medal of Science. He has also received the IEEE Engineering Leadership Recognition Award, the Arthur M. Bueche Award of the National Academy of Engineering, the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment, the Madison Medal of Princeton University, and the Sheffield Fellowship Award of the Yale University Faculty of Engineering and many other prizes and awards.
Gomory has been a director of a number of corporations including the Washington Post Company and the Bank of New York (now Bank of New York-Mellon). He was named one of America’s ten best directors by Director’s Alert magazine in 2000. He has written extensively in both academic and popular publications about the actions and goals of today’s corporations and the effect of their actions on the industrial competiveness of the country.
Gomory was elected to both the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering. He has been a Trustee of Princeton University. He served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) under Presidents Reagan, Bush, and George W. Bush. He was for many years a member of the National Research Council Committee on Science Engineering (COSEPUP) and of (STEP) the National Academies Board on Science Technology and Economic Policy.
Gomory is currently a member of the Advisory Council of the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA), a member of the board of the On Line Coalition (OLC), an opinion contributor for “The Hill”, and a member of the board of Lingraphica Inc.
Most of his writings are available on the website ralphgomory.com which has more information on his activities past and present.